East of Ealing
the biscuit tin on the mantelpiece, were sadly depleted. In the dubious excitement of the night before, he and Omally had actually forgotten to ask Soap for the thirty quid. Such events were wont to dash any hopes Jim had for the future. He would simply have to pull off The Big One today and that was that.
    Pooley scanned the pages in search of inspiration. Almost at once he spied out a little series of lines printed on the lower left-hand corner of the sixth page. “Aha,” said Jim, “a code, possibly masonic.” He recalled a discussion he had recently had with Professor Slocombe about what the ancient termed The Science of Numerology. The scholar was convinced that the answer to most if not all of existence could be divined by the study of numerical equivalents. It was all down to breaking the code. The Professor had, of course, said a great deal more at the time, but that was the general gist which Jim managed to take in. No knowledge was ever wasted upon the lad, for as his father, like Omally’s, had told him somewhat obscurely when he was a lad, “a dead bird never falls out of the nest.”
    So here was a little offering, possibly a secret code, printed for the benefit of that dark order, The Bookie Brotherhood, who, as any good punter knows, are always tipped the wink in advance. Pooley turned quickly to the front page and his heart jumped for joy. It was true. He had Bob the bookie’s
Sporting Life
. Oh, happy day.
    “I’ve cracked it,” said Jim Pooley to the assortment of Brentford wildlife which watched him from the surrounding trees. The squirrels shook their heads and nudged one another. The pigeons turned their beaked faces aside and tittered into their wings. They had seen all this many times before. “Eighteen lines,” Jim began, “three groups of six, thick ones and thin ones, now how exactly does this work? Six six six, what might it mean?”
    Pooley ran his Biro down the list of runners for the first race, six horses. The first thick line in the first group was number four. It was an outsider, the odds were enormous. Still it was worth a try. If he got it wrong today he could always steal Bob’s paper again on the morrow. Jim scribbled the horse’s name on to a betting-slip and applied himself to the next race. For the fourth, fifth, and sixth races, he returned to the three groups of lines and selected the second thick bar in each sequence. Satisfied that, even if he was incorrect, he had at least performed this daily task with speed and alacrity, Jim took out his exercise book and made an attempt to calculate his potential winnings. The eventual figure was so large that the last row of noughts flowed off the edge of the page. Pooley folded his betting-slip into his breastpocket and tucked away his exercise book. “That will do nicely thank you,” he said, leaning back upon the bench to enjoy the air.
     
    Professor Slocombe sat taking a late breakfast with his Victorian guest. Mr Sherlock Holmes ate sparingly as he studied the day’s newspaper. “I see,” he said at length, as he pushed the tabloid aside, “that very little has changed since my day.”
    “Come now, Holmes,” said the Professor. “More strides forward have been taken this century than during the previous five.”
    “I think not.”
    “And what of technological advancement, telecommunications, space travel? We possess sciences now that in your day were undreamed of.”
    “And what of poverty, squalor, and cruelty? What of injustice, intolerance, and greed? Has your age of wonder succeeded in abolishing those?”
    Professor Slocombe shook his head. “Sadly, no,” said he.
    “Then little has changed. If anything, these horrors have been intensified. Details which I read here would never have been made public knowledge in my time. But if what I see is typical, and such I have no reason to disbelieve, then I am appalled to find that with the resources you now possess, little has been done.”
    Professor Slocombe was

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